The Department of Health (DoH) recently announced that a group of ten ISTCs referred to as the “spine chain” in central and northern England has been awarded to Capio UK the independent group. Mercury, and its parent company Tribal, were awarded only five new ITCs in the South East. There appears to have been some change in the terms of the contract and the type of work that the DoH was wishing to commission and with a shift to more inpatient procedures.
There still remains some confusion over the volumes of work that will be carried out in each of the ISTCs although the DoH has stated that 250,000 extra procedures will be carried out in both NHS and independent centres by the end of next year.
The Secretary of State, Dr John Reid, speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme stated earlier this year that 15 % of NHS funded operations would be contracted out to private providers “within our lifetime”. He saw a progressive from 5 to 10 % to reach maximum of 15 % at some unspecified future date.
The Government can expect opposition from within its ranks to its contracting out policy. The Times of Monday 22nd March 2004 reported David Hinchliffe, the Chairman of the Health Select Committee, as stating “scarce resources should be invested in the NHS where they can benefit more patients rather than providing profits for the private sector”.